If there is one reason for nature enthusiasts, environmentalists, and explorers to visit India, it is to witness the country’s incredible biodiversity across long stretches of untouched lush landscape. Among these patches of evergreen beauty lies the imposing figure of India’s national animal – the tiger.
For centuries, tigers were considered a trophy among game hunters and poachers. The big cat was hunted down across many Indian states leading to dwindling numbers. It was only in 1972 after the Wildlife Preservation Act was passed, did conservation of the tiger truly begin. This effort has paved a way for tiger tourism and wildlife sanctuaries to become a rather worthwhile attraction among tourists from around the globe.
A Brief (Non-Boring) History of Tigers
Ancient Indian scriptures will tell you the story of how tigers once freely roamed the land. From the southern tips of Chennai, right up to the Golden Triangle Zone of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra, these majestic beasts were a common sight for the locals. Humans and tigers lived amongst each other, rather comfortably, each respecting the other’s space.
It was during the Mughal period that the concept of trophy hunting took form. Emperor Akbar introduced the hunting game atop an elephant. His lineage took great pride in the activity, with a large number of tigers and other species going down to the arrow. The meat became a staple ingredient to royal feasts, with over 30 dishes served at once.
The arrival of the British only spelled further danger for tigers, as they were branded as “dangerous predators”, with huge bounties available for any hunter who took them down in numbers. Tales of the infamous “man-eating” tigers only spread fear and hatred for this beast among the locals.
Hunting of wild animals was justified as a means to “civilize the landscape”. Between 1875 and 1925, over 80,000 tigers were slaughtered. The remaining few were forced to retreat to landscapes that were deemed inhospitable for human occupation.
Things took a turn for the better in 1975. After the passing of the Wildlife Conservation Act, efforts to repopulate tigers in more thriving and comfortable environments began. The gun was replaced by the camera, and the love for tigers and other unique and endangered wildlife became the norm.
As of today, India’s tiger population has nearly hit the 3,000 mark. While it is pale in comparison to what was once a great number, the efforts to conserve and improve the numbers have only gotten stronger, thanks to an increased interest in wildlife and tiger tourism.
8 Interesting Facts About Tigers
Tigers are the world’s most photographed animal. If you need a reason to believe this, here some awesome facts about this apex predator that make it such an enticing capture.
- Tigers are the largest of wild cat species: Researchers have recorded these wild cats to grow and weigh almost 700 pounds.
- Tigers love a swim: Unlike our domesticated felines who scurry away at the very sight of water, tigers seem to relish the opportunity for a dip in a lake. They have even mastered the art of hunting in water. The longest recorded swim in one go done by a tiger is 8 miles!
- They pack quite a punch: 10,000 pounds of force! That’s right, one swipe of their paw is capable of crushing the human skull.
- A group of tigers is called an ambush: Pretty appropriate nomenclature here! Tigers hunt in packs, and when they do, they do so stealthily.
- Tigers can mate with other big cats: If you’ve heard stories about Tigons and Ligers, they’re probably true! Male and female tigers have a tendency to mate with their lion counterparts. Quite the catch they are!
- A tiger’s saliva is antiseptic: Quick healing is a perk only tigers are bestowed with. Whenever injured, tigers will lick their wounds. The antiseptic properties in their saliva help prevent infections.
- Tigers can imitate the call of other animals: Another fantastic trait of this apex predator is its ability to trick its favorite food, the sambar deer, into falling for the classic mimicry trap.
- Male tigers are humble during a feast: While they do the heavy lifting of catching prey, male tigers let their mates and cubs dine in first. A true gentleman!
Best Places to Find Tigers in India
Tiger conservation efforts continue to grow stronger in India. With so many wildlife sanctuaries open to the public view, you can get a little confused as to where to visit first. If you’re especially keen on spotting tigers, the parks listed below are your best bet.
- Corbett National Park: By far the most popular of national parks when it comes to tiger safari in India, Corbett park is famed for the fact that it is named after a legendary hunter, who gave up his gun for a pair of binoculars and a camera. This park is home to the Royal Bengal tiger, as well as a large variety of bird species.
- Ranthambore National Park: Create all the space you possibly can in your photo gallery for this park! Ranthambore is an extraordinary vista of flora and fauna, and tiger sightings are very common. It is also one of the birthplaces of Project Tiger – a unique conservation initiative. The sprawling 248 sq. mile stretch of the lush green landmass has something to offer for all the senses. The park was once a hunting ground for the royals of Jaipur, and today holds great importance in the push for wildlife conservation.
- Kanha National Park: Tag your kids along for this magical ride. Kanha is famously known as the park that inspired Rudyard Kipling to pen the Jungle Book. Everything you will witness at this park would seem like it’s taken straight out of a fairytale.
- Bandhavgarh National Park: Bandhavgarh serves as a prime example of how humans and tigers have peacefully coexisted for centuries. It is also chiefly responsible for the launch of tiger tourism in India.
Tiger Safari in India: A (Quick) Checklist For a Memorable Experience
Has one of the five parks piqued your interest? Now it’s time to plan your tour of wildlife safari in India. For an optimum safari experience, there are a few things you should consider very carefully before clicking that “book safari” button.
- Plan a good 5 months in advance: Safari tours are constantly in demand. With only limited lodging available and covid precautions set in place, it is best to book your slot 5 to 6 months ahead of time. This will also help tour operators set up the optimum experience for an enjoyable jungle safari in India.
- Pay close attention to your wardrobe: First, there is the weather to consider. Most safari tours take place during the cooler seasons in India, so you’ll need to pack warm clothes. Then, while on the jungle safari, it is advisable to wear natural tones like green and light brown. If you’ve got camo clothing, that works best.
- Choose tours that last for a full week: Your goal, of course, is to spot tigers and other wildlife while on the safari. But tigers have no interest in spotting you! To have luck on your side in this instance, opt for longer tours that involve multiple game drives and cover every zone in the national park.
- Book tours with experienced naturalists: This goes without saying; you can only experience a jeep safari in India to its fullest when you are guided by experts. Do your research thoroughly and get in touch with tour operators to understand the rates, safari zones, and overall trip itinerary. Choose the one that suits you.
Ready to explore the land of tigers and snap pics of the big beast in action? Book a tiger safari tour with Tiger Safari India. We offer uniquely crafted tour packages that give you the best chance of spotting the Royal tiger in its natural habitat.
Born and brought up in New Delhi, it was Sharad’s childhood passion to play cricket for India. While on a holiday in 1990, he saw his first tiger. Little did he know that this one sighting would immerse him into a realm where forests and tigers were all that mattered.
Sharad’s experiences as a wildlife photographer have inspired him to observe the tiger’s behavior for over 30 years and motivated him on his own journey as an entrepreneur. He started Nature Safari India Pvt Ltd, with a focus on “Conservation through Tourism.” to align himself to the mission of saving the regal species and repopulating them in India’s forests. In 2006, he set up one of India’s premier jungle lodges in Kanha National Park.
Sharad believes that there are many lessons to be learned from a tiger that can be applied successfully to leadership—both in business and in life. Here’s a new book by Sharad Vats on management and leadership skills to learn from a Tiger.